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Gamescom 2019: Down The Rabbit Hole Brings Wonderland To VR In Fascinating Ways

Gamescom 2019: Down The Rabbit Hole Brings Wonderland To VR In Fascinating Ways

I’m almost jealous of all of the cool ideas Down The Rabbit Hole has.

The moment I jumped into the demo for the latest game from Wands developer Cortopia, it clicked. Mashing novel with VR, it plays a little like a panoramic comic book, with new panels unfolding around you as you move your characters from one scene to the next. If they climbed a ladder to a higher panel, I could grab roots dotted around me and hoist myself up to see them.

When two characters spoke, the game shifted from a third-person perspective to a more direct and personal first-person approach. In some puzzles I had to reach into the world myself to manipulate objects as if I were the god of Wonderland itself. Even the name has me asking why I didn’t think of it first.

Needless to say, I’m fascinated by what Cortopia has on its hands.

This is a puzzle game at heart. Cortopia describes it as more of a prequel to the novel than a straight up adaptation. In my demo, the Chesire Cat — appearing as vibrant and toothily grinned as ever — tasks me with finding five butterflies. Two characters, including an unnamed girl (as in: probably not Alice) navigate Wonderland together, and I can swap between them on the fly.

There are sparks of genius here. I really enjoyed jumping into first-person to get up close with Wonderland’s fantastical cast of characters. Reasoning with the King of Spades, who’s face changed from one scribbled emotion to another was a rare moment of VR magic.

My concerns lie with the game’s puzzle elements. Down The Rabbit Hole has some fun brain-teasers, but some pretty obscure ones too. For example, at one point I had to guide the other character, a card (specifically which card I forget), through a small gap between a door. The developer had to point it out to me, otherwise I would have had no idea it was there. I want to spend time exploring this world and being rewarded for it, not getting frustrated at road bumps like that.

Based on the trailer above, it looks like it’ll be worth persevering. There’s simply too much potential in this universe and Cortopia seems to be making the most of that in the ways that count. Nothing gets weirder than Alice and Down The Rabbit Hole promises to live up to that status quo.

Down The Rabbit Hole is coming to PC VR this year. PSVR and Quest versions are also in the works, though jury’s still out on exactly when they launch.

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